Since the beginning of our activities in 2005, we have observed a chronic shortage in skilled mental health professionals in Iraq and Kurdistan-Iraq. In particular, we have noted a staggering lack of qualified psychotherapists as there are no official training possibilities for this discipline in Iraq. Such a status quo is alarming in a country where numerous forms of human rights abuses have left their marks on families and children for decades.
Regional capacity-building has therefore become one of the main pillars of the Jiyan Foundation's work. This includes continued professional training for local staff, a seminar program for external professionals, and the establishment of a research department.
Training and Supervision for Mental Health Professionals
The Jiyan Foundation systematically provides training and supervision for its local therapists. In particular, staff acquire expertise in trauma therapy, supervision, child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and art therapy. In cooperation with a number of external partners and institutions, the Jiyan Foundation relies on an international trainer pool committed to the long-term professional development of psychotherapists in the region.
Multiplying the Knowledge
Trained staff in turn pass on their knowledge and offer tailor-made mental health and human rights seminars for diverse professions in Kurdistan-Iraq. The Jiyan Seminar Program aims to sensitize those working in law enforcement, education, health and social care, or related sectors that often entail close contact with survivors of violence and trauma. They learn about common psychological problems and symptoms, and how to support persons in distress.
Moreover, the Jiyan Foundation advocates for a thorough implementation of quality standards in the fields of mental health and psychosocial services, and a clear distinction between psychotherapy and psychological counseling. We seek the permanent exchange with international trauma experts and have established an extensive network of specialists and external consultants.
The Jiyan Foundation as one of the main providers of mental health services in Kurdistan-Iraq has launched the ambitious task of empowering evidence-based psychotherapy in the region. Yet this endeavor is hampered by a lack of locally conducted research and the very limited availability of diagnostic interviews and questionnaires, treatment manuals, and effectiveness trials. In order to overcome these obstacles, the Jiyan Foundation has started building its own research department. The department aims to validate clinical diagnostic interviews and treatment outcome measures, and to make them available for practitioners in local languages. The research team is equally interested in conducting effectiveness studies and randomized controlled trials in cooperation with other institutions.
Since 2016, the Jiyan Foundation together with Charité University Hospital Berlin has implemented a joint research project funded by the German development agency GIZ. The study focuses on the provision of specialized mental health services in Kurdistan-Iraq and Jordan.
Autonomous Province of Bolzano
Center for Victims of Torture
Charité University Hospital Berlin
Children of Baghdad e.V.
Foundation Wings of Hope
Human Rights Foundation of Turkey
terre des hommes
The Red Pencil International
University Hospital of Hamburg Eppendorf
University of Worcester
Zentrum für Psychotraumatologie und Traumatherapie Niedersachsen